Friday, September 11, 2015

Film Fridays! -- September 11, 2015

*movie titles link to IMDB pages*


Despite the amount of work my mom and I got done on the house this weekend, we still managed to sneak in a couple of movies!

Title: Snowpiercer
Starring: Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell

Thoughts: This wasn't exactly what I was expecting.

This movie, based on the French graphic novel series Le Transperceneige, shows a post-apocalyptic society where the only people left on the planet live on a train with a perpetual motion engine that circles the entire globe once every year. We follow Curtis (Evans), a man who lives in the slum-like tail section of the train, on his quest to traverse the length of the train and take over the engine.

What I liked: I loved the acting here. Lately, Chris Evans is often stereotyped into the "muscle-bound, All-American," so it's fantastic to see him in a different kind of role. There's a moment near the end of the movie where Evans gives this utterly devastating monologue, and it is fantastic. And while Evans is obviously the star of the movie, the supporting actors Swinton, Hurt, Bell, and others also turn in more-than-solid performances.

Not only is Evans's acting superb, but his character's arc is truly something, as well. For such a high-concept story, it ends up being Curtis's story that really resonates throughout.

The world-building is top-notch as well. As the movie progresses and our characters move throughout the train, the different things they encounter are fascinating. In one train car, they happen upon an elementary classroom, and the lesson going on is both chilling and educational for everyone, including the audience.

Parts of this film are horrifying and brutal, but it definitely fits the bleak tone. It's hard to swallow, but appropriate for the movie.

What I disliked: There are a few moments that just don't make much sense logistically. For fear of spoilers, I can't completely explain it, but if you watch this film, take note of the scene when the train goes around a curve so two sides of the train are facing each other. Logistically, that scene makes zero sense, and it jolted me out of the story enough to bother me.

The action doesn't flow well. An early fight scene is on of the most visually stunning sequences in the film, but fight scenes are often followed by long lulls in the action. The flow is choppy and disjointed, and not in a pleasant way.

And finally, the ending. Just after we finished watching the movie, I was a little stunned at how it ended, but still feeling a lot of the feels brought on by Evans's acting. But looking back on it now, several days later, I think I truly hate the ending. And yet, sitting here as I write this review, I can't think of any other way it could have ended. Based on the choices that all the characters made, it might just be the logical, if insane, way things should have played out. It just feels like such a letdown after such an incredible journey for Curtis. But as the song says, you can't always get what you want.

Overall, this is a movie that I'm going to have conflicting feelings about for a long time. I still recommend it, if just for Chris Evans alone.

Rating: C+

Title: Cloud Atlas
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae

Thoughts: I liked this movie much more than I thought I was going to.

This movie follows six different stories in six different times, but the actors play multiple characters across the timelines. If you'd like a better synopsis, try the IMDB link in the title above, because I certainly can't give it to you.

This is a long movie at three hours. It took almost half of that time for me to really get into each of the stories, but once I did, I was enthralled. It's fascinating to see how each of the stories are connected by plot threads, and each story is so unique. Of the six timelines, only the 2012 story is comedic in tone, and while it's amusing, I didn't connect to it as much as the others. My favorite stories were the last two chronologically, the Neo-Seoul story and the Big Isle story. I also feel like they were the most connected of all, and made the most impact on the film as a whole. Each actor is definitely strongest is the stories in which they are a main character.

Also, I had no idea James D'Arcy was in this movie. That was such pleasant surprise.

So let's get to what every review of Cloud Atlas brings up: the cross-race portrayals. Since each actor plays characters across the timelines, many of the actors end up playing multiple races, and even multiple genders. But the most obvious being Neo-Seoul. White actors like Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy, Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving wear a combination of makeup and prosthetics to make them appear Asian.

Yes. I know that it is problematic. Hollywood has a long, sordid history of white actors playing Asian characters through yellowface. I don't need to be the voice of outrage because many others have been down that road before me, and done it much better than I could ever hope to do from my position of privilege.


I will say that it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. The actors' appearances are changed, but for the most part, I feel that the portrayals steer clear of stereotyping. I do think that the worst offense in the movie is Halle Berry's brief role as an Asian man. That specific part did rub me the wrong way, but the majority of the race and gender reversals hardly phased me.

I love seeing how everything comes together in the end. How people can find each other time after time, and how there is a ripple effect throughout time. I nearly teared up at the end.

I do think it's a good movie. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But it's a sweeping story that covers time and distance, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rating: B

On Tuesday, September 8th, the following movie came out on DVD and Blu-ray: 

Starring: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn

And two movies are releasing to theaters! 

Title: The Visit
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, Michael Ealy

What am I most excited for? The Age of Adaline! My parents saw this in theaters in May and loved it, so I've been anxiously awaiting its DVD release so I could love it, too! 

What I'll Be Watching

I'm definitely hoping to watch The Age of Adaline this weekend. Also, I finally got my mom to watch Think Like a Man last week (which I had already seen), so I'm hoping we can finally watch Think Like a Man Too this weekend, as well!

This week, the trailer for the Christmas-horror film Krampus was released. If you've read the Christmas anthology My True Love Gave to Me, you'll recognize Krampus from Holly Black's story. The fact that this film stars Adam Scott and Toni Collette already had me intrigued, so the trailer just makes me that much more excited! It looks pretty scary, but also funny in parts? And it just looks like a fun time!

Tell me: what movies have YOU seen lately? What are you planning on seeing very soon? And what trailers are you the most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!

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